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Dublin: 14 °C Thursday 23 May, 2019
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Europa League semi-final line-up confirmed after Frankfurt's dramatic win and Valencia's dominance

Arsenal face the Spaniards while Chelsea and Frankfurt will go head-to-head in the last four.

Frankfurt players celebrate.
Frankfurt players celebrate.
Image: Imago/PA Images

THE EUROPA LEAGUE semi-final line-up was confirmed tonight with Valencia and Arsenal, and Eintracht Frankfurt and Chelsea now going head-to-head for coveted final places.

Valencia set up a last four clash against the Gunners as they made light work of Villarreal, winning 2-0 to seal a 5-1 aggregate victory.

Holding a comfortable 3-1 advantage from the first leg, Toni Lato got things started for Valencia following a bright start, volleying home from close range after superb work from the impressive Goncalo Guedes.

Valencia continued to dominate at a wet Mestalla and Dani Parejo, who had a penalty saved in the first leg, dashed Villarreal’s slim comeback hopes when his deflected free-kick found the net early in the second half.

Los Che will now face their former boss Unai Emery at Emirates Stadium on 2 May before welcoming the Gunners back to Spain a week later as they bid to reach their first major European final since 2004.

Elsewhere, Frankfurt benefitted from the absence of VAR in the Europa League as they eliminated Benfica via the away goals rule following a 2-0 home win on Thursday.

Filip Kostic’s goal from an offside position was allowed to stand in the 36th minute and Sebastian Rode levelled the tie at 4-4 just over 20 minutes from the end to send the Bundesliga side through to the semi-finals.

Benfica had established a strong position with a 4-2 victory a week ago but were unable to muster a response after the linesman’s mistake in the first half left their lead looking tenuous.

Substitute Eduardo Salvio hit the upright with a late chance to put the Portuguese outfit back into the box seat, but Frankfurt held firm to book a final-four meeting with Chelsea.

Benfica defended stoutly for much of the first half and only an officiating error eroded their two-goal advantage.

Replays showed wing-back Kostic to have been comfortably offside when he turned in the rebound from a Mijat Gacinovic shot that struck the base of the left post.

Bruno Lage’s protestations resulted only in the Benfica head coach being sent to the stands before the break. His team briefly displayed a greater sense of urgency after the interval as Haris Seferovic worked Kevin Trapp with a close-range header.

The hosts, though, always appeared a threat going forward and the crucial strike eventually came from an unlikely source, midfielder Rode side-footing into the bottom-right corner from the edge of the area.

The entire complexion of the contest almost swung towards the death, but winger Salvio could only find the outside of the post from Alejandro Grimaldo’s cross as Benfica fell narrowly short of advancing.

  • Semi-finals (2 & 9 May)

Arsenal (ENG) v Valencia (ESP)
Frankfurt (GER) v Chelsea (ENG)

  • Final (29 May, Baku)

Gavan Casey and Murray Kinsella are joined by Andy Dunne to preview the Champions Cup semi-finals and all the week’s news on the latest episode of The42 Rugby Weekly:


Source: The42 Rugby Weekly/SoundCloud

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